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AAP: Journey from anti-corruption movement to accommodating corrupt politicians

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By Sidharth Mishra

A few days back newspapers rightly went to town on a bureaucrat couple getting the Thyagraj statdium in the heart of Delhi emptied of the practising sportspersons to walk their dog. The bureaucrat couple has faced the music and have been separated by being sent on punishment postings of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

Given to his wont for opportunity for publicity under any circusmtances, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was quick to announce that the stadium would remain open for practise by sportspersons till late in the evening.

Now would somebody tell Kejriwal that why did he keep this sports complex shut for days together ahead of Diwali last year for a political event. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with his wife and cabinet colleagues had offered prayers at the replica of Ayodhya Ram Mandir built at Thyagraj Stadium in Delhi.

 The event was preceded by the usual publicity blitzkrieg and people urged to witness the event live. This event was part of Kejriwal’s posy to entice voters of Uttar Pradesh, which was to go for assembly polls a few months later, with his Ram Bhakti, which included free trips to the citizens of Delhi to Ayodhya.

Kejriwal himself had earlier visited Ramjanambhoomi and Hanumangarhi in Ayodhya to reiterate his Ram bhakti of not being of any lesser degree than that of the BJP leaders. It's another matter that UP voters in Kejriwal's Ram Bhakti actually saw  'Bagula Bhakti' (false devotion). Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) put up a no show in the polls. 

When asked by mediapersons about the temple replica in a sports ground, the prominent AAP face, Atishi Marlena gave a very interesting explanation. Born to Marxist parents, both teachers at Delhi University who named her after Communist leaders Marx and Lenin (Marlena), Atishi  justified use of tax-payers money as an attempt by the government to celebrate Diwali with the people.

AAP is by-product of the Anna Hazare-led 2011 anti-corruption agitation, which created a stir, a political turmoil, leading to change of two governments in Delhi, one at the Old Secretariat led by Sheila Dikshit and other at the Raisina Hills headed by Manmohan Singh. It also gave rise to a political party, which is still to firm up its social and ideological base, though it has already tasted power in two states - Delhi and Punjab.

A party which was propelled to power ‘fighting’ for people’s rights, and claimed it to be their ideology, is today best known for splurging people’s money on its publicity drives. Soon after the AAP came to power for the first time in 2013, party’s then leading ideologue Yogendra Yadav was asked about the AAP’s socio-political orientation.

Yadav in his customary, convoluted argument, laced with sweet inanities, had said that the party was oriented towards ‘people’s welfare’ and no ideology could be an impediment in pursuing the agenda of welfarism. Soon after, Yadav, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and others from the Left were ousted from the party, so was Kapil Mishra from the Right.

Daniel Bell, who had described himself as a “socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture,” in his 1962 book ‘End of Ideology’ had predicted that the older, grand-humanistic ideologies derived from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would be exhausted and that political ideology would become irrelevant among ‘sensible’ people. No wonder those who are left behind in AAP are ‘gold-digging’ politicians, who could not make a show in the traditional parties, have now bought their space in the Aam Aadmi Party.

The arrest of prominent leader and Delhi Minister Satyender Jain by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) amplifies the travel of AAP from an anti-corruption movement to corrupt governance. On Monday last, ED arrested Delhi Power Minister Jain in a money-laundering case based on a CBI first information report lodged against the AAP leader in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He was accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.

Jain is also facing case in the Delhi High Court for indulging in poll mal-practises. The petition filed by Jain’s defeated rival is a dossier on how to misuse government funds and manipulate public opinion through false propaganda. If the petition is upheld, the court may give a watershed judgment on what ails our election process. 

In 2014, following the Arab Springs and similar peoples’ movements in other countries like Anna Hazare movement in India, Francis Fukuyama, the author of ‘The End of History and the Last Man’ stated that the biggest problem for the democratically elected governments in some countries was not ideological but “their failure to provide the substance of what people want from government: personal security, shared economic growth and the basic public services.”

Building of the replica of the Ram Temple at a sports stadium would certainly not stand scrutiny of Fukuyama of an elected government.  It’s probably time for Fukuyama to update his 2014 work, ‘Political order and political decay’ to find how some of these movements have let down their supporters in a big way. 

(First Published in The First Post)


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